Tri-Berry Crisp

Tri-Berry Crisp

Happy Labor Day! It has been an absolutely busy week here, to say the least. I’ve had to make countless to-do lists on my phone just to remember which classroom I am headed to next, what I am supposed to buy at a grocery store, what books am I supposed to find, etc. A special thank you goes out to Apple Notes for keeping my sanity in check. One of my biggest hurdles this semester is how to survive my PE classes. As I am graduating this semester and failed to take PE classes in the past, I was required to take four PE classes in order to satisfy my GE requirements. Thus, my schedule pans out with three PE classes back to back…to back. One. right. after. another. ugh.

Tri-Berry Crisp

I like to think that I used to be athletic. Somewhat. In the past, I took various yoga classes, pilate classes, I ran freshmen year, and did the occasional Turbo Jam or Billy Blanks Tae Bo (if you have no idea what those are, you should check them out). Then Junior year came and things became busy with work and school and I told myself climbing the stairs to the third floor everyday was good enough.

Fast forward to present day and I am taking Aerobics, Weight Training, and Strength and Stretch, a total of three hours of exercise twice a week. I had a taste of what the rest of my semester was going to be like and let me just say, everywhere hurts. My back. My legs. My arms. I’m told it will get easier as the semester goes on and I sure hope so. In keeping with a “going healthy” theme, I have decided to make a triple berry crisp to celebrate the end of summer and to welcome in the fall. Unfortunately, southern California doesn’t seem to have a fall season since it’s all desert and forever in the 80-90+ degrees range. Nevertheless, we can always hope. This crisp is beautifully naturally sweet and when paired with ice cream, becomes creamy with a crunch from the crisp! Absolutely perfect, absolutely beautiful, and absolutely already gone.

Tri-Berry Crisp

To begin the Tri-Berry Crisp, wash your fruit. You of course don’t have to use three berries, you can do all strawberries, blueberries, or all raspberries. It’s completely up to you! Quarter the strawberries so they are about the same size as the other berries.

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Sprinkle in the sugar and flour. Toss the fruit around until the berries are completely coated. Spoon into whichever baking bowl you want to use. I’ve used cast iron in the past, but for today, I’m making individual crisps. Set aside.

To make the crisp, combine all the ingredients into a bowl.

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You can use either your hands or a pastry blender, but I like to use my hands since it’s faster. Squish the butter and the dry ingredients together until it clumps together.

Pinch out small clumps of dough and drop onto the berries.

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Place a sheet of aluminum foil on your baking rack in case any berry juice bubbles over. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until the berries are bubbly and the crisp is nicely browned.

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Wait about 5-10 minutes before serving because the berries and its juice will be extremely hot! Top off with vanilla bean ice cream and enjoy!

Tri-Berry Crisp

Tri-Berry Crisp

1 c blueberries

1 c strawberries, quartered

1/2 c raspberries

1 Tbsp sugar

1 Tbsp flour

For the crisp:

3/4 c old fashioned oats

2 Tbsp brown sugar

2 Tbsp flour

1 tsp cinnamon

4 Tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cubed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the oven rack with a piece of aluminum foil.

Wash the berries. Sprinkle in the sugar and flour, then toss with a spoon until evenly coated. Spoon into a baking dish and set aside.

To make the crisp, combine all the ingredients into a bowl. With your hands or pastry blender, blend the ingredients so that the butter is dispersed into the dry ingredients. Pinch off small clumps and place on top of the berries, making an even layer. Bake for 30 minutes or until the berries are bubbly and the crisp is golden brown on top.

Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving as it will be extremely hot! Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes

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Breakfast is my absolute favorite meal of the day. If it were up to me, I would be having it for lunch and dinner too, and many times, I do, mainly because I don’t wake up in time to put any effort into making a nice breakfast. Which reminds me…my New Years resolution was to eat a good breakfast at the start of the day…oops. My favorites include eggs benedict, omelette, good ol’ scrambled eggs or a hearty stack of buttermilk pancakes, just to name a few. For breakfast today, I decided I wanted to make blueberry pancakes. We have a large carton of blueberries in our fridge so I figured I would put them to good use. As per usual, I woke up a little later than what is normally determined as “breakfast time” so I proceeded to make breakfast for lunch.

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This pancake recipe is perfect already just by itself, but can be turned up a notch by adding lemon or orange zest, chocolate chips, raspberries, or in this case, blueberries! This recipe is deliciously light and fluffy and have a perfect balance of flavor in them. They contain just the slightest bit of sweetness which complements the natural sweetness of the berry!

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First, whisk together your egg and buttermilk, then sift in the dry ingredients.

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Just like that, you have pancake batter! Now wasn’t that easy

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Allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes so that the gluten in the flour has time to relax. You can even make this the night before and just set it in the fridge to be ready to use right away. While it is resting, heat your skillet and brush it lightly with vegetable oil. Once the batter is ready and the skillet hot, scoop the batter into the pan. I use my OXO measuring scoop to make sure all my pancakes come out to roughly the same size.

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Once you have placed the batter in, drop 5-6 blueberries onto the surface.

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I know, I need to get a bigger skillet. You will know when your pancakes are ready they are begin to form bubbles on top and the edges begin to look like they are drying out.

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Flip! And proceed to marvel at how beautifully golden your pancakes are. Every now and then, you may ear a sizzle as the blueberries begin to break down and some juices ooze out. You want to continue to cook the pancakes until they are also golden on the bottom side.

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In no time at all, you will have a beautiful stack of the fluffiest pancakes! These can be eaten just as is, or you can smoother in butter or honey as I have done so here. Now that, is a winner!

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Buttermilk Pancakes

makes 14 small pancakes

1 c all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

1 Tbsp sugar

1 egg

1 c buttermilk

(optional) blueberries, chocolate chips

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg and buttermilk together until it becomes a homogeneous mixture. Sift in the dry ingredients and whisk until no lumps remain. Set aside for 10-15 minutes to allow the gluten from the flour to relax. Heat a skillet on medium heat and gently brush with vegetable oil. Once the batter is ready, drop 2 Tbsp of batter onto the skillet. If adding any fruit or chocolate chips, drop them into the pancake. When the surface forms bubbles, flip the pancake to its other side until it turns golden brown. Serve with butter, syrup, jams, or honey.

Key Lime Pie

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I’m keeping with the citrus theme! This time around, I decided to make a key lime pie. The only thing was…even though it’s supposed to be key lime season, I failed to find key limes at three of the grocery stores I was at. So I used regular limes as it’s still better to use fresh limes than bottled key lime juice! I thought that making this would be a whole other fiasco, but little did I know, there’s only THREE ingredients in key lime pie. THREE! And places charge this pie as if it’s some magically rare and exotic thing (I guess it could be since it’s key lime but it’s grown in Florida and Mexico so it’s not that exotic or rare). After searching numerous recipes, I came to the conclusion that there’s so many different variations just using the three ingredients that I wouldn’t go wrong with coming up with my own.

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To begin, make the graham cracker crust. I used the same recipe for my chocolate pudding pies and cheesecakes. I crush the graham crackers in a ziplock and mix the sugar and butter straight in to minimize clean up.

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Zest three limes! Some recipes I saw had the zest, some omitted, but I love zest from any kind of citrus so I had to include it! Then squeeze out 1/2 cup of lime juice.

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In a mixing bowl, mix together the egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk. Some recipes called for 4 yolks, some 6, some two cans of condensed milk, some one. I decided on 5 yolks and one can.

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Once that is all mixed, pour in the lime juice and add in the zest. Almost immediately, the mixture will begin to thicken as a result from the acid.

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Pour the custard into the graham cracker crust and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the center is just set but still jiggly (not liquid but not completely solid).

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Once it is done, allow it to cool to room temperature then move to the refrigerator to completely cool. Then, add fresh whipped cream and decorate with lime slices! I precut the pie before placing the cream on as I wanted each slice to be cleanly cut. Now, you can enjoy or freeze it for a different texture!

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Key Lime Pie

makes one 9 inch pie

Graham Cracker Crust

10 full sheets of graham crackers

1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted

1/4 c sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9in pie pan.

In a gallon size ziplock bag, crush the graham crackers until finely ground using a rolling pin. Open and pour in sugar and make sure it evenly disperses. Pour in the melted butter and mix so that all is covered. When you take a handful of graham crackers and squeeze, it should hold its shape. If it comes loose, melt some more butter 1 Tbsp at a time until it holds. Pour the graham crackers inside the pie pan. Firmly press the graham crackers in place using the bottom of a measuring cup or small cup. Bake for 10-15 min.

Key Lime Custard

5 egg yolks

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 c key lime juice (or lime if you cannot find key limes)

3 Tbsp lime zest

While the crust is baking, make the custard. In a mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk and mix well. Add the lime juice and zest and mix until the mixture thickens. Pour into baked graham cracker crust and bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes until the center is just set (not liquid, but not entirely firm either).

Allow to cool to room temperature, them move into the refrigerator to continue to cool. Finish it off with fresh whipped cream and lime slices!

Lemony Lemon Cake

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It is that time of the year where your neighbors and friends drop off large bags of fresh picked lemons on your doorstep even though you have your own lemon tree growing in your backyard! I have long been a fan of this ridiculously sour fruit. Whenever I drink water, I always like to place half a lemon in to spruce it up. I love the lemon bars that I have made a while ago, and even add lemon into my homemade chicken noodle soup! The flavor of a lemon can either be a star or an enhancer of the flavors around it, depending on how you want to use it. With lemon season upon us, I wanted to make it the star and decided to make a lemony lemon cake! Not just a regular lemon pound cake which is probably the most popular form of turning this fruit into dessert, but lemony lemon where we double the use and include the zest as well to enrich the flavor.

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For this recipe, I picked four lemons fresh from our lemon tree. Our tree is still ripening, but have a nice handful of lemons that are already ripe and ready to be used.

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This recipe is actually a lot easier that I thought it would be and used less ingredients than a typical cake. I think a major part is because it relies on the six eggs, which deepens the flavor and adds body to the actual cake itself. Measure out the flour, baking powder, and salt in a sifter and set aside for later use.

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Beat together the sugar and butter until white, fluffy, and creamy. When it looks like the above photo, add the eggs in one at a time.

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While that is going, zest four lemons and juice them until you get 3 tablespoons worth of lemon juice. I only needed one lemon’s worth of juice as it was a large one. Add the zest into the batter after the addition of eggs. Then, sift in the dry ingredients, mix, and add the milk and lemon juice (basically making buttermilk but contains the lemon flavor). Separate the batter as evenly as you can into three pans that have been buttered and floured down. I also cut out parchment paper circles to line the bottom of the pan. The batter will be thick but light and fluffy!

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Bake until golden and the tops bounce back when pushed down with a finger.

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Allow them to completely cool before using! For my finished cake, I unfortunately do not have any photos of the assembly as I was in a rush to finish the cake. To assemble them, I used a serrated knife to trim off the sides of the cake (as they were baked slightly dry) and filled the layers with a jar of beautiful lemon curd I made a couple days before. I will be doing a tutorial on that as well in the future but have included the recipe below.

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To top it off, I made a gorgeous swiss meringue buttercream. I chose this form of buttercream as opposed to the other kinds because the silky texture would be able to complement the spongy texture of the cake as well as balance out the tart lemon curd without being too overpoweringly sweet. A detailed tutorial of the Swiss Meringue Buttercream can be found here.

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To create the swivels and ruffles, I used a Wilton 1M tip that I also use to make rosettes. I simply pipe 2 inch sections along the side all the way to the top middle of the cake and then begin the next section. The swiss meringue buttercream is perfect for this because it maintains a silky look! A traditional American buttercream can leave a dried out look so the Swiss buttercream is perfect for the job! This cake is perfect and ready for the summertime!

Lemony Lemon Cake

makes one cake (three layers)

recipe adapted from Cupcake Jemma

3 c flour

4 1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

1 3/4 c sugar

1 2/3 c unsalted butter, room temp

6 large eggs, room temp

zest of 4 lemons

3 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 1-2 lemons worth of juice)

2 Tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 340 degrees F. Butter and flour three 8 inch baking pans, then line with parchment paper circles. Set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the sugar and butter on medium-high speed with a paddle attachment for 5 minutes until fluffy and has lightened in color. Add the eggs in one at a time, mixing between each addition. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add in the lemon zest, then the sifted dry ingredients and mix on low speed until incorporated. Pour in the lemon juice and milk and mix until completely mixed in, then the batter is done! Evenly divide the batter between the three pans and bake until golden and the cake bounces back if poked, about 40-50 minutes. Allow to cool completely before using!

Perfect Lemon Curd

recipe by Cupcake Jemma

makes about 3 cups of lemon curd

5 egg yolks + 2 whole eggs

zest of 1 lemon

1/c c lemon juice (about 3 lemons)

1/2 c sugar

1/4 c unsalted butter, cold and cubed

Over a double boiler, mix together the eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar. Continue to stir over heat until the mixture has thickened, about 5-10 minutes. Add in the butter and mix until all is melted. Push through a fine mesh sieve to get out any lumps. Add into jars and refrigerate until completely cooled. Serve however you like!

Blackberry Brioche

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When I worked at 85 C Bakery Cafe, I had my favorite breads. You can’t help but always gravitate towards certain kinds! The first two weeks I worked there, it was the cheese dog all the way. The cheese dog is a hot dog wrapped in a sweet bun topped with a mix of cheddar and mozzarella cheese, ketchup, and parsley. It was so good, I had it during my lunch break, I had two during my dinner break, and I would even had it for breakfast. Ugh it was so good my mouth watering just thinking about it. So when people asked me if I gained weight since working at the bakery, I say yes I did, and blame it all on the cheese dog. I could use one right now actually…

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A second favorite of mine became the brioche. Since it was a giant loaf, one went a long way. It was sweet and buttery and oh so delicious. Right when it came out of the oven, I would look for the perfect loaf and buy it for myself. The perfect loaf was determined as follows: it needs to be just perfectly proofed where it is raised above the loaf pan but not overly proofed where the drizzle sauce drips out. There needs to be a straight, defined structure between each section of loaf. And last, there needs to be the beautifully golden brown crust (but not too brown) where when you sunk your teeth into it, it created such a nice soft crunch but continues to melt in your mouth. Okay now I am drooling.

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Since I stopped working there in December, I’ve only been back a couple of times and my mouth has reached a brioche drought. And so I figured, I might as well try to make it for myself at home! I didn’t want to make the exact same one and so I used the recipe from the cookbook Huckleberry by Zoe Nathan and turned their Blueberry Brioche into a Blackberry Brioche (the blackberries were on sale, the blueberries were not). It was my first time making the bread so I didn’t really know what to expect, but the outcome was absolutely beautiful. It had the same buttery softness as my bakery and the blackberries offset any sweetness by its tartness. Next time, I’ll try it with different fillings. I’m thinking strawberries, cinnamon sugar, cinnamon apple, mmm that will be good!

To start, add in the warmed milk and yeast and stir around. Add in the flours, sugar, eggs, and salt.

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Use the dough hook to knead until it becomes a tacky, stiff dough. You may need to push the dough off of the hook a couple times for it to continue to knead.

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You then add the butter and continue to knead until fully incorporated. The butter turns it from a stiff dough to one that is light and fluffy. Push it out with your fingers and line up the berries.

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Roll it up and cover to allow it to proof. It may look like a banana slug.

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Once it has risen for at least 1 hour, push it down, then roll it again tightly. Place it in the loaf pan and watch it grow.

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After three hours of patiently waiting, it has grown like a beautiful butterfly (that was my way of referencing Bugs Life). Brush on the egg wash and liberally dust with sugar.

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Once glazed, bake it until it turns a beautiful brown color on the top. The sugar coating will be slightly crumbly but crisp. I love how some of the sugar has caramelized on top!

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Have just a little more patience and allow it to sightly cool before slicing in. If you cut into it too early, all of the steam in the bread will evaporate and give you a dry bread once it is cooled. Share some slices with friends or eat the whole loaf yourself!

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Fresh Blueberry Brioche

recipe from Huckleberry, by Zoe Nathan

Makes 1 Loaf

1 1/2 c fresh blueberries (I used blackberries in mine)

2 Tbsp whole milk

1 Tbsp active dry yeast

1 c + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1 c + 2 Tbsp bread flour

6 1/2 Tbsp sugar, plus more for sprinkling

1 tsp salt

3 eggs + 1 egg yolk

1/2 c + 2 tbsp unsalted butter, very soft

Egg Wash (whisk 1 egg yolks + 1 Tbsp heavy cream + pinch of salt)

Place the fresh berries on a plate and freeze in a single layer. Do not use frozen blueberries, as they are too watery. Slightly warm the milk and pour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Add the yeast and whisk by hand to combine. Add the all-purpose flour, bread flour, 2 + 1/2 tbsp of the sugar, the salt, eggs, and egg yolk to the bowl. Mix on low speed until the dough comes together, 1 to 2 minutes.

Increase the mixer speed to medium-low and work the dough for 6 minutes. Pause every minute to push the dough back down into the bowl and off the hook until it pulls off the sides and looks like a strong bread dough.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the butter, a little at a time, over the course of 2 minutes. After 1 minute, pause to scrape down the bowl and hook. When the butter begins to blend in, increase the mixer speed to medium-high to fully incorporate the butter and bring the dough back together, 5 to 6 minutes longer.

Dump the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and press into a 16-by-10-in rectangle. It does not need to be exact. Position the dough vertically, with a short side nearest you; distribute the blueberries and 2 tbsp of the sugar along the top edge and gently roll down, toward you, into a log.

Place the log on a greased sheet pan, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight.

Grease a 9-by-5-in (standard size) loaf pan (I use non-stick spray). Reshape the dough one last time by pressing it into an approximate 12-by-6-in rectangle and cover with the remaining 2 tbsp of sugar. With the dough positioned vertically, roll down toward you, tightly this time.

Place into the greased loaf pan, loosely wrap in plastic, and allow to rise in a warm place until more than doubled in size, about 3 hours.

As the brioche nears readiness, preheat your oven to 350°degrees. Carefully brush the dough with the egg wash, making sure the egg doesn’t pool around the edges. Liberally sprinkle with sugar. Bake until golden, 40 to 45 minutes. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes in the pan. Then transfer to a cooling rack.

Acai Bowl

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The first time I heard of acai was through Dr. Oz’s show. The way he described it and showed off its list of benefits made me fall in love with this superfruit and want to give it a go. That was in the early days of high school when acai bowls weren’t “in” yet and no one knew what it was.

In short, acai is a berry that has even more antioxidants than the strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, and blackberry. It is said to improve your diet and metabolism and can even stimulate weight loss. Now, I don’t know how true all of it is, but just the fact that I can get more antioxidants into my system makes it a winner!

Acai Bowl

1 individual serving pack of Sambazon Acai Berry Pure Unsweetened Superfruit

1 large banana, sliced

1/2 c greek yogurt; strawberry, blueberry or plain flavor works well can also substitute for 1/4 c soy milk

5 strawberries, washed and sliced

optional: small handfull blueberries, washed

optional: small handfull raspberries, washed

granola (I use Kashi Go Lean Crunch)

cranberries

honey

Take your pack of acai, break it up a little bit so it is not in one chunk, and put it in a large magic bullet cup. Add in half of the bananas and half of the strawberries (the rest will be reserved for toppings). Put the greek yogurt (or soy milk) in the blender and add half of the blueberries and raspberries. Blend until it is completely smooth and pour into a bowl. Top with a handful of granola, sliced strawberries, rest of the blueberries and raspberries, cranberries, and lastly, drizzle the top with honey.

Lemon Bars on Brown Butter Shortbread

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I’ve professed my love for Tartine many times in the past. I’ve been to their bakery once and have their baking book. In my spare time, I love flipping through the pages and looking at their pictures.

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During winter break, I attempted to make these lemon bars but failed quite miserably. I didn’t allow the crust to fully brown and the lemon mixture also leaked into the crust. When I took it out of the oven, it looked like a shortbread cookie that was surrounded in a goopey lemon mixture. It was an epic fail and it ended up in the trash can.

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When my friend gave me a large bag of lemons last week, I decided to give the recipe another try! In fear of failure part two, I cut the recipe in half. I did not want to waste the ingredients in case I failed again and had to throw everything away.

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The outcome could not have come out any better than it did!! My favorite part about this recipe is the crust. Compared to other lemon bars, the crust is full of flavor and is crispy and flaky. There is so much flavor and the ratio of crust to lemon is perfect. It is not overly sweet but is just enough to offset the tang from the lemons.

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First, mix together the crust in a stand mixer. Press it evenly into a buttered pan. As I mentioned, I cut the recipe in half so the proportions below are less than what the actual recipe asks for.

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Grab a piece of parchment paper and lay it on top of the crust. Smooth it over the top so the crust is smooth and pour in the pie weights. My pie weights are green beans :)

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While the crust is baking, make the filling. In one bowl, sift together the flour and sugar. Zest the lemons and squeeze out the lemon juice. I thought the recipe would use more lemons but these ones were extremely juicy and I only needed 2. Add it to the flour sugar mixture and whisk until smooth. In another bowl, crack and whisk together the eggs. I like to use my pyrex measuring cups to mix everything in because it makes pouring easier.

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Add the beaten eggs and whisk until well combined and wait until the crust is deeply golden brown.

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If the crust is done before the lemon mixture is ready, you can take it out to stop it from baking. BUT, if you take it out, make sure that you put the pan back into the oven to get really really hot again before you pour the batter in. The first time I made this, I didn’t allow the pan to get hot enough and when I poured the batter in, everything soaked through the sides and into the crust. By having the pan and crust really hot, the batter will sizzle and almost cook when it reaches the sides, preventing the filling from sinking down between any cracks.

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Once it is done baking, allow it to completely cool before slicing. After it is sliced, dust the top with powder sugar and enjoy!!

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These lemon bars were actually a lot easier to make than I thought. I think the first time around, I just overthought it and made it more complicated than it had to be. These are moist yet crispy, sweet but not overloaded, and lemony without any bit of sourness!! You have the perfect balance all in one bite!

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Lemon Bars on Brown Butter Shortbread

Adapted from Tartine by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson

Brown Butter Crust

1/2 c powder sugar

1 1/2 c plain flour

3/4 c unsalted butter, softened

pinch of salt

Lemon filling

1/2 c plain flour

2 1/4 c sugar

1 c + 2 Tbsp lemon juice

zest from 2 lemons, grated

6 eggs + 1 egg yolk

pinch of salt

icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 and butter a 9 x 13 in baking pan.

To make the crust, sift the icing sugar, flour, and salt into the bowl of your stand mixer. With the paddle attachment, mix on a low speed to combine.

Add the butter and mix on a low speed just until a dough forms. Put the dough in the pan and press it evenly into the base.

Line the crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake the crust about 30-35 minutes, until it evenly colors and is a deep golden brown. Mine actually took 40 minutes.

While the crust is baking, make the filling. Combine the flour and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice and zest and mix to dissolve the sugar.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and the egg yolk with salt. Add the eggs into the lemon and sugar mixture and whisk until well combined.

Once the crust is golden, pull the oven rack out of the oven slightly and pour the filling into the crust while it is still in the oven.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 F and bake for 30 – 40 minutes, until the center is just set.

Allow the bars to cool completely, then chill well in the fridge before cutting. Dust with icing sugar to serve.

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